You're Engaged, Now What? A Comprehensive Guide on Planning Your Wedding

Your partner popped the big question and you said yes–congratulations! Although the excitement of your engagement has your stomach filled with butterflies and you wish you could hold onto these perfect and stress-free moments forever, you are probably starting to wonder when the chaos of wedding planning is going to begin. More importantly, you’re probably wondering where to start, and that is where we come in! Before we go any further, we want to tell you that planning your wedding is meant to be filled with personality, joy, laughter, and bonding. It can truly be an amazing experience for you AND your loved ones, and we encourage you to have some fun!

The First Steps

Let’s take a deep breath. Sit down. Close your eyes. Imagine your ideal wedding. What do you see? What does your dress look like? What does your suit look like? Is your wedding inside or outside? Do you see trees? What about a chapel? How many people do you want surrounding you while you say ‘I do’? These thoughts can quickly become overwhelming and we know that money and time are the first things that come to mind. For just a moment, imagine that these concepts don’t exist and then open your mind to the possibilities! Instead of seeing them as negative thoughts, turn them into opportunities. This is the moment where you let your personality and imagination take control. After you’ve designed your ideal wedding, now you can take it to the drawing board and decide on the details.

However, we know that some people enjoy having a professional to guide them in their first steps, and that is why wedding + event planners exist! One of our own lovely wedding planners, Danielle of D Events and Weddings, is an expert in her craft and offers full service event planning just for you from beginning to end. Remember that wedding you just imagined, the one that seemed impossible? She’s here to make it possible–and she’s done it countless times before. Yup, you can breathe easy now.

Jasper K Photography | Black Bow Events

Local Wedding Vendors

So you’ve reached out to your wedding planner, or maybe you’ve decided to DIY, but either way you’re ready to start building your team of love experts. Find your venue, caterer and get all of the high priority planning squared away. Your wedding planner will be right by your side during this process for smooth sailing and emotional support (it’s not in their job description, but we know that they must be pretty good at it). After that, it’s time to grab your gals or your bros and have some fun. Dress and suit shopping, creating ‘save the dates‘, florals–local wedding vendors will have everything you need without the hassle of ordering online and waiting to see your product. We do love a good Etsy shopping spree, but we also encourage you to support your community because they’re kind of flippin’ awesome.

You can also get discounts on local vendors when you have a wedding planner like Black Bow Events, another local business who has years of experience planning amazing weddings. We love that event planners are there every step of the way and have cultivated connections with the wedding community so that planning your wedding can be stress-free and budget friendly.

Brandon Harwell Photography | D Events and Weddings

Just Months and Even Days Away

The wedding is months away, and everything is pretty much settled. Well, as settled as it can be–we get it. Now it’s time for all of the final preparations, like teeth whitenings, spa days, gym memberships, guest accommodations, etc. A wedding planner can help you get set up with all of these things if you’ve lost the energy! But beyond all of this, it’s your time to rest and focus on the love between you and your honey. These moments before the big day are unique and exciting, they should be embraced. So put down your notebook filled with wedding planning notes, go grab the love of your life, and remember why you’re doing it all–for the love.

Feel like you need more wedding planning help + inspiration? You can check out our own website here where you can find upcoming wedding shows, local vendors, discounts, and giveaways. We would be honored to be a part of your planning process and we’re here for you every step of the way.

Lavel Marie Photography | D Events and Weddings + Black Bow Events

Header photo: Lavel Marie Photography

Let’s Get Planning! 5 Local Wedding Planners Who Will Get You on Track

One of our favorite things about working here at Perfect Wedding Guide is that we get to see so many incredible weddings everyday. From farmhouse chic winter weddings, to vibrant pink floral wonderlands in the spring, we’ve seen some of the most perfect weddings out there– and the exciting part is, it doesn’t end there! The possibilities are truly endless here in the Land of Enchantment, and with the help of local wedding vendors, your wildest wedding day dreams can become a reality.

Let’s talk planning, because achieving that dreamy wedding starts with a good plan, and finding the talented individuals who bring that plan to life should be your #1 priority. All of those DIY YouTube videos and Pinterest boards are great, and trust me, we love a good DIY wedding, but sometimes that’s not an option for the couple who is looking to take some weight off of their shoulders. Check out this blog that we wrote in June that dives deeper into the different types of wedding planning available to you!

Wedding planning is not meant to be stressful, but rather a time where you get to celebrate love and connection, so take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and keep reading to connect with a local wedding planner that can help you along your greatest adventure yet. Wedding planners are a great way to keep you on track for the big day, even when you’re at your wits end. These local wedding planners are trusted by our wedding community, and after seeing the stunning images from weddings that they’ve planned, you’ll totally agree.

1. Occasion Services + Events

Natalie and Celine are not only pros in the event planning business but are an absolute pleasure to work with throughout the entire process. Although they already had three other weddings scheduled the weekend of my big day, they agreed to take on our out-of-town wedding as well. They have top-of-the line quality products at reasonable prices and are quick to offer their creative vision in designing the perfect concept. They ran out of gold chiavari chairs the week of my wedding due to their high demand so they upgraded me to their vineyard chairs for the same price! I was thrilled! They added a personal touch to my wedding and I will undoubtedly go to Occasion for all my future event needs!  

– Hallee, Local Bride

2. Simply Done Events

Symone is a professional and she understands your vision for the event! She makes planning a party fun and easy! I loved having her on my wedding day. She was absolutely essential in making every detail go according to plan.

Larissa, Local Bride

3. Casi Sueño Weddings + Events

Genevieve and her team bring both an otherworldliness here to Albuquerque, and a genuine love for celebration and design. Being motivated by a pure passion for what they do, there’s no need to feel spoiled when the Casi Sueño team transforms your wedding day, only grateful.

4. NJR Event Planning

For nearly 3 decades, Naomi — the creative powerhouse behind NJR Event Planning — has been taking the inklings of dreams, and turning them into realities for New Mexico engaged couples. Her design expertise has weathered the storm through many a trend: cupcake-ballgowns, burlap + lace, bolero tops (Google it), puffed sleeves, etc…. Classic and modern though, the inherent talent of the NJR Event Planning team continues to evolve, meeting the needs of our generations respective trends like it’s second nature.

5. Black Swan Events

I cannot say enough positive things about this company. Joann and Brian were incredibly attentive, responsive, professional, and talented at what they do! They provided all of our floral decorations, lights, set our place settings, and everything was incredible! I was very thankful that when they gave us our quote, which included everything we initially wanted, they gave us multiple price points and allowed us to pick and choose. They communicated directly with our venue for set up, measuring, and other details and it made our wedding day beautiful and stress free. I hope to work with Black Swan again on future events!

– Bailey, Local Bride

Header photo: Maura Jane Photography

7 Wedding Venues Outside the City

As much as we love the hustle and bustle of our vibrant city here in the southwest, we can’t lie… Taking a step back from the noise and enjoying New Mexico’s myriad of landscapes is one of our favorite parts of living in such a wild state. The mountains and mesas, rivers and roving fields, can all enliven even the most downtrodden spirit, honestly. So when we hear a local engaged couple wants to get away from the city for their wedding, we get it.

And luckily for couples in New Mexico, everyone else here seems to get it, too. Whether you’re ready to make the trek to the deeply restorative forests of Ruidoso, or just popping over to sunny and sprawling Los Lunas, there’s already a wedding venue there waiting for you and your loved ones.

So if your wedding guests, bridal parties, or partner-to-be are in need of some R&R, why not let your wedding be that gift to them? Not every horror story you’ve heard about wedding day chaos is true, and even if they were, there are steps you can take to ensure nothing unsavory transpires during celebration.

Step one — utilize all available wedding planning resources, like our print magazine and online tools.

Step two — book local wedding vendors who have dedicated their lives to ensuring weddings, like yours, are the happiest of all occasions.

And finally, step three — choose a beautiful venue surrounded by nothing but fresh air and a great view, like Prairie Star or Hacienda Doña Andrea, or one of the other 7 wedding venues listed below.

1. Prairie Star

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Maura Jane Photography

Prairie Star truly captures the gorgeous New Mexican culture with the best view of the Sandia Mountains. My wedding was everything I hoped for and I am very appreciate of the staff here. We had an hour rain delay and the staff helped keep the guests comfortable and calm. The coordinator, Rebecca, knows her stuff! She is very responsive and helpful.

The food here is AMAZING and the professionalism of the staff is impeccable. They even stayed 30 minutes later to let us continue the reception due to the rain delay. We rented an event tent for the lawn and had a plated dinner out there. The staff was great and timely about serving the guests. Prairie Star is a wonderful venue! I can’t say enough about it!  

Shelby, local newlywed

2. Hacienda Doña Andrea

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Shayla Edenfield Photography

We had a lovely and intimate wedding at the Hacienda – the venue is beautiful and had the perfect southwest ambiance that we were looking for for our New Mexican wedding. The day of the wedding had multiple mishaps (as weddings do) and the event staff on hand was SO accommodating and helpful.

We are so happy that we chose this venue and almost all of our guests asked where we found such an amazing and scenic place. The rooms were beautifully decorated and comfortable accommodations overall. Even when our guests were up far into the night, the rooms were quiet. We had everything we needed to stay over the weekend.

Tabitha, local newlywed

3. Europa

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I never write reviews, but let me tell you. I have lived in the area for a long time and have never come across anything that even comes remotely close to the experience you get here. You’d be hard pressed to find another place that’s close to this. I feel like it’s basically impossible to best it as well.

The workers do a fantastic job, the whole experience is so unique and amazing, that I almost feel guilty about it. This place is the absolute definition of a diamond in the rough. Such a hidden gem.

Jacob, local New Mexican

4. Sanctuary on the River

Sanctuary on the River

When looking for an outside venue for our wedding and something a little out of the way The Sanctuary on the River was by far the best. I made all arrangements over the phone so it was hard to tell exactly what I was getting. Two weeks before our wedding we visited the Sanctuary and was very impressed.

The staff and owner were very nice, extremely helpful and made sure our special day was spectacular. I would definitely recommend this venue for any kind of wedding. The decorations, the bridal suite and the gazebo were decorated perfectly. The bridal suite fit about 6 of us comfortably with our own private bathroom. There is no complaints all compliments here. Thank you to the staff of the Sanctuary for making this a day we will never forget.

Jennifer, local newlywed

5. Nature Pointe

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Matt Blasing Photography

Nature Pointe is one of the most beautiful spaces I have seen locally. It has an amazing natural fee with wood and stone and iron. Feels so New Mexico without being in Santa Fe or downtown. We love the mountains and this spacious venue has amazing views you can’t get in Albuquerque. We are super impressed with Courtney and her team and how communicative and helpful they have been, making us feel special and not just another wedding. We are excited about both the inside and the outside of Nature Pointe.

The kicker for me was just how much was included in the price. Tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces, vases, candles, cake cutting supplies, signage, etc. The list goes on and on. It was a bit more than we were planning to spend initially, but as soon as we drove up, we fell in love with Nature Pointe and are so excited for our special day. 

6. El Monte Sagrado

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Emily Joanne Wedding Films + Photography

Honestly, I didn’t know places like this still existed. Besides El Monte Sagrado being breathtakingly beautiful, the customer service was out of this world! I had my wedding here at the beginning of the year and everyone at the resort made sure that my family, friends, husband and I had everything we needed!

Rarely am I impressed by wedding food, but our filets were some of the best I have ever had – thank you to the chef, Cristina Martinez, and our wonderful dinner team, Madelyne, Matt, and Marge. Last, but not least, Melisha Romero planned and coordinated my wedding from beginning to end. I could go into the nitty, gritty detail, but the long and short of it is that when I had a problem or was not 100% happy with the proposed plan, Melisha came back to me with other suggestions and resolutions. I owe so much to this beautiful woman for easing my mind from over 1,200 miles away (we are in Birmingham).
My wedding was perfect and the week was an absolute dream. All of our guests said it was their favorite wedding they’ve ever been apart of and I believe them! I can’t wait to go back!

Jillian, local newlywed

7. Casa Perea Art Space

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Maura Jane Photography

This venue is a treasure both in its beauty and historical value to this community. From the office gals to the grounds keeper, the care and service over our wedding event was impeccable, professional and most importantly, personal. Their flexibility is a blessing during sometimes stressful decisions.

The included tables, chairs, linens and parking shuttle are all blessings which freed us up to handle the more pleasant details of food, music and florals. The beauty of this adobe garden home made the need for further decorations minimal. Our wedding at Casa Perea was both intimate, grand and simply lovely. Many thanks to the owner and staff at Casa Perea for sharing this historical treasure with us!  

Helene, local newlywed

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3 Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Ring in New Mexico

Here at Perfect Wedding Guide, we try to not make too much of a fuss about any one particular facet of the wedding planning process. Instead, we keep it light to remind engaged couples that, despite the budgets, in-laws, and hundreds of tiny details they’re in the midst of dealing with, it’s all bringing them closer to a happy new life.

That being said, when it comes to your rings — a little bit of fuss is usually recommended! While you’re actually talking to the person holding it, your engagement ring is still the very first ‘yes’ in a long line of wedding-related proclamations. Then, later, your wedding ring becomes a staple part of your every day life, living as a sparkling reminder of your vow to love til death do you part.

So, not to stir up unnecessary anxieties, but we don’t want you to live the rest of your life feeling anything but that same joy you felt when you said ‘yes’ every time you look down at your hands. Luckily, the incredible wedding jewelers of New Mexico feel the same way. Which is why local shops like Ooh Aah Jewelry have dedicated their expert knowledge of jewelry-making to their community of engaged couples.

After 30 years of operating in Albuquerque’s central hub, Nob Hill, Ooh Aah Jewelry has become a beloved landmark of the area. It’s the expertise of their team which elevates the jewelry scene in New Mexico to new heights, and offers couples a sense of confidence moving forward with their jewelry choices.

So, along with some brand new designs that show off Ooh Aah‘s impeccable ability to blend the modern with the timeless, we have 3 expert-approved tips for choosing your wedding and engagement rings. To contact their team for even more advice, guidance, and gorgeous gems, you can reach Ooh Aah Jewelry here.

1. Start early, like, even earlier than you’d expect

If you have the time in your busy schedules, start your ring shopping early. Once you’ve done some research on your budget, local jewelry shops, and the stone + cut combinations you like, try to jump right in to actually trying the rings on.

If you can choose your wedding ring and engagement ring together — even better! You only really need 3-4 months before your wedding date to ensure there’s plenty of time for your jeweler to make custom changes and size the ring. But if you can get them both together, that’s one less step to worry about in the middle of planning a wedding, and it means you don’t have to go hunting for something to match your engagement ring, especially if its unique.

2. Keep your current and future lifestyles in mind

What does your life look like on a daily basis? Are you or your partner in the military? Do either of you play a sport or work out daily? Do you play an instrument? Are you planning on starting any of these activities sometime soon? All of these things, which might not come to mind right away, can seriously affect your wedding ring choice.

While your jeweler at Ooh Aah Jewelry will know what you can wear while playing a violin or being deployed, they won’t know what to recommend for you if they don’t know about these aspects of your lifestyle. So, if there’s anything that could affect the wear of your ring, be sure to let them know! A simple fix like thinner bands, different gem stones, or stronger metals will be in your future.

3. Switch things up a bit

Some engaged couples have been dreaming of their wedding rings since childhood, and some haven’t given them a second thought until just now, when they started reading this blog post. Whichever party you fit into, it usually bears repeating that switching things up a bit will do you some good.

We, as people, get stuck in our styles and habits pretty fiercely. Behind the glass counter though, a lot of jewelers have seen magical things happen when a couple decides to try on a ring that’s completely different from what they’ve had in mind. Now, you might not switch from a simple band to an ornate vintage cut on a whim, but it could open you up to different style combinations. So, especially if you’re having trouble falling in love with a ring, try on something a little out of character, and see where it takes you!

 

How to Prepare for a Boudoir Photoshoot

When you boil it down to basics, each wedding is nothing more than a celebration of love. The who, when, where, and what of that love is pretty important for the big day, but all details aside, it comes back to love.

Part of what makes this particular kind of love so special that it calls for a giant day-long party that takes months of planning to orchestrate, is the comfort that comes from having a partner in this big, scary world. Which, in turn, offers space in the relationship for each person to grow into their best selves alongside each other.

They say that loving someone else requires a bit of self love too, though, in order to really flourish. Getting comfortable in your own skin before getting comfortable with another person is what we’re supposed to do per our mother’s advice, right? Right. But as well-intended as that advice is, it misses a big part of picture: the whole rest of your life!

Building up self love before you commit to a relationship is always a great plan, but even within that relationship, it’s important to keep practicing self love.

Which is why we’re so glad that boudoir shoots are officially back in vogue. Sure, we love suggesting soon-to-be-spouses do a sexy shoot before the wedding day — it makes the perfect honeymoon gift! But we also suggest boudoir shoots to unmarried people, couples on their 50th anniversary, and couples on their 5th anniversary.

Because there is no time limit on practicing self care and empowerment, and there is no wrong time to show some love to this body of yours.

It can be a little nerve-racking though, being so vulnerable in front of a camera. So we asked one of our favorite boudoir photography experts, Jennifer of Stripped Boudoir, what you can expect walking into a boudoir shoot with her, to hopefully mitigate those anxieties and replace them with excitement.

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Getting Started

“Well, the first step in any of my shoots is a FREE one-on-one consultation. This is where I like to get to know each other so you feel comfortable with me and my ideas. I also ask that you gather some ideas of poses that you’re most comfortable with.

This shoot is not all about my creative side, It’s about yours as well, and I like to collaborate on photos that make you feel confident and beautiful. Plus, I have a great make up artist that works with me as well so if you decide you want that service, she offers free consultations as well!”

 

Getting Ready

“Next in preparing for the shoot: Like I mentioned, this shoot is all about you. So in the days approaching the shoot prepare your self and your body in ways that make you feel confident. Try on outfits, practice posing, and the like.

I know you’re probably thinking, “what about my diet?” but something I stress that’s very important is, you don’t need to starve yourself before a shoot to look sexy. Just eat healthy a few days leading to the shoot, and I only say this because in my experience I see that in general it just makes you feel better on shoot days.”

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During the Shoot

“Nerves are expected so don’t worry, that’s normal! One thing to remember is it’s just you and I in the shoot, AND the best part, I always bring a bottle of champagne for those left over lingering nerves.

We’ll collaborate through the whole shoot, and I’ll even show you what they look like so you can make changes if you’d like to. You’ll be surprised at how fast it will go. I know it’s a vulnerable situation so I make it as fast and smooth as possible. Before you know it, we’ll be done, and within an few days I’ll have some previews to show you.”

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To book Stripped Boudoir and collaborate with Jennifer on a shoot of your very own, you can contact her here.

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Black Swan Events: For When Your Wedding Decor Simply Must Dazzle

Black Swan stepped up to the plate and handled everything for an extremely over scheduled bride and groom[…]. Everything was absolutely beautiful down to the last detail.

Gabriel, local groom

That’s the simple reality of weddings. Brides, grooms, fiancés — they’re all just lovely titles we add to describe real, normal human beings. These human beings, as you might guess, have real human being jobs, families, friends, responsibilities, and obligations that often take up nearly all their bandwidth. So when it comes time to plan a wedding, our over-scheduled brides, grooms, and couples are, most often, already spread too thin.

Which is when Black Swan Events steps in. Joann and Brian, the married duo whose creativity and meticulous attention to detail drives Black Swan Events forward, are the kinds of people you call to save the day. (Or, if you’re a little more ahead of the game, you call them to make sure the day never needs saving at all!) After learning and evolving within the New Mexico wedding community for years now, Black Swan Events is one of the few event companies who can truthfully claim to be ‘full service.’

Their dedication to precision has famed their name among engaged couples in New Mexico, and their professionalism paired with simple kindness has ensured their lifelong relationships with other wedding professionals in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Which means that when our darling human being brides, grooms, and couples feel simply up to the neck with officiant recommendations and marketing materials from DJs across the state, Black Swan Events can cut through the clutter and offer reliable guidance for choosing vendors, venues, and everything in between.

While we love all our New Mexico wedding professionals, we can’t always offer our full, wholehearted support and commendations, simply because we haven’t had the chance to work with every single business in our state. When it comes to Black Swan Events though, we can say with complete confidence that they will take care of you, because they also take care of us. If you’ve had the chance to visit one of our many extravagant wedding shows, chances are you’ve seen some Black Swan Events decor in action.

From the most minute, like the hand-lettering on your balloons, to the sweeping draping covering a ballroom ceiling, Joann and Brian cover every corner. Years of devotion to the engaged couples in New Mexico have brought them to near-celebrity status in the community, and for all the right reasons. (Don’t believe it? Check out their plethora of 5-star reviews!) To book Black Swan Events for your wedding, and ensure your decor will dazzle beyond belief, you can contact Joann and Brian here.

See more from this wedding here: Let’s Get Mehried, Shams + Sharmin

Joanne and her staff were simply amazing! They helped us find an excellent photographer, DJ, etc… And walked us through the whole wedding planning process. She designed all of our decorations and florals that were simply stunning! The day of the wedding she took care of every tiny detail leaving us to enjoy the celebration of our daughter’s special day. I highly recommend this company to plan your big event!  

Laura, local bride

Maura Jane Photography

Joanne planned all of our décor for our wedding reception. She is professional and easy to get along with and has a niche for creativity. I received so many wonderful comments about the décor of our ballroom for the reception. She worked on my budget and planned her design accordingly. She then gave me three options for price levels around my budget. She listened to what I wanted and incorporated it into my design. 

Tracy, local bride

See more from this wedding here: New Years Wedding Bash {Dominic + Erin}

Thank you to Joann and her staff for a beautiful job decorating our ballroom for our 10 year vow renewal. You brought my vision to reality. We had so many compliments from our guests how beautiful everything looked. Thank you again for giving us wonderful memories to remember!
Paula
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Terese Rose Designs: Exclusively Designed Bridal Gowns

A wedding dress should do more than adorn its wearer. It should be a chapter itself in the love story it illustrates.

Terese Rose Designs

If there’s anything you know about our Perfect Wedding Guide team by now, it’s that the little details of weddings are what really make our hearts stir. Which makes sense, considering how many beautiful celebrations of love we’re blessed to be apart of — vicariously, of course — through our little family of local wedding businesses. Over the years, we’ve developed a finely-tuned, highly trained eye for the magnificently minuscule fragments of a love story, which coalesce to create an intrinsically unique experience.

Yet our love of delicate details doesn’t belong to us solely. In fact, we’re not nearly as talented at the tiny than one particular local, small business: Terese Rose Designs.

After taking a peak at some of the original, exclusively designed wedding gowns and whimsical lingerie pieces that Terese Rose Designs works diligently on, it’ll come as no surprise to learn her business launched on Valentine’s Day a few years ago, here in New Mexico. The perfectly apt holiday now marks each new anniversary of the designer’s operation of opulence, and each new season of designs made for love, and with love weaved into every stitch.

Inspired by natural elements from fireflies to florals, all Terese Rose Designs pieces are crafted slowly, and for one particular wearer at a time. By breathing new life into the tradition, and revitalizing Victorian essentials, the designer cultivates a magical new approach to wedding and intimate attire, elevating the way we see fashion here in New Mexico. Her designs are not misplaced in time, per se, but the avant-garde gowns and lingerie seem to transcend time, reaching past the boundaries of generations to touch on the core of something that remains intensely beautiful throughout the ever-shifting cultural, temporal, and social trends.

To collaborate with Terese Rose Designs on your wedding gown, see more of her awe-inspiring work, or contact the designer herself, you can reach out here.

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Elizabeth Wells Photography

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Maura Jane Photography

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Just West Photography

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